Aromatherapy dates back centuries – the ancient Greeks used plant oils in perfume and healing ointments. Since then, it has grown in popularity as a complementary therapy, with thousands of people training as clinical aromatherapists annually.
However, there is some confusion between the terms “aromatherapist” and “clinical aromatherapist.”
Today, we’ll explain what clinical aromatherapy means and the role of a clinical aromatherapist. We’ll also explore the training requirements for clinical aromatherapy and how to find a qualified clinical aromatherapist.
What is aromatherapy?
Aromatherapy treatment is the therapeutic use of essential oils to support physical and emotional well-being.
Essential oils are highly concentrated plant compounds from flowers, leaves, bark, and fruit. The volatile oils have delicate aromas and unique medicinal and therapeutic properties when inhaled, applied topically, and ingested. Depending on the oil, they may have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, calming, or antimicrobial properties.
Many people seek aromatherapy for eczema, acne, insomnia, anxiety, depression, or chronic pain.
Is there a difference between a clinical aromatherapist and an aromatherapist?
In the UK, aromatherapy isn’t legally regulated. So, the terms aromatherapist and clinical aromatherapist are interchangeable.
However, if we’re being precise, there is a difference.
So, what is it?
An aromatherapist is someone who uses pre-blended essential oils and practises aromatherapy massage in private practice or a spa setting. They may use essential oils to support relaxation, calm, and pain relief – but they do not specialise beyond that.
On the other hand, clinical aromatherapy is a complementary and alternative (CAM) therapy that requires extensive training to meet certification requirements.
Clinical aromatherapists train in the therapeutic use and application of pure essential oils. They learn chemistry, botany, sustainability, and safety of essential oils.
Clinical aromatherapists understand how to blend oils and identify which oils to use for specific health issues. In addition, they study human physiology and learn about any potential interactions with medications (which is essential if you are ingesting any oils).
What can I expect from clinical aromatherapy?
During an appointment with a clinical aromatherapist, they take a thorough health history to determine the right blend of essential oils for your needs. They then teach you to apply the oils via inhalation, diffusion, spritz, steam, compress, massage, or ingestion.
The oil blends and treatments are always unique to your emotional, mental, and physical circumstances.
How do I become a clinical aromatherapist?
As mentioned, there are no legal requirements for aromatherapy training in the UK.
That said, voluntary professional governing bodies help to regulate clinical aromatherapy by standardising training requirements and ensuring practitioners abide by a strict code of ethics.
When choosing a clinical aromatherapist course, check if it is endorsed by one of these organisations:
- International Federation of Aromatherapists
- The International Federation of Professional Aromatherapists
- Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council
Most aromatherapy courses take a maximum of two years – and some are available through distance learning. Ideally, you want a course that covers the theory, chemistry, and practical aspects of clinical aromatherapy.
You can find out more in our blog on the best complementary therapy courses.
How to find a qualified clinical aromatherapist
You can find a clinical aromatherapist by getting a referral from close family or friends. You can also ask your healthcare provider for a recommendation. However, always check if the clinical aromatherapist belongs to a professional regulatory body. This gives you peace of mind that they follow a code of ethics and have professional insurance.
Before booking an appointment, you can also ask the following questions:
Do you have formal training in aromatherapy?
How long have you been practising aromatherapy?
Do you have training in any other complementary therapies?
Do you have experience working with my specific issue?
We encourage you to search for a clinical aromatherapist using our Treatwiser Practitioner Directory. You can narrow your search to include professional body membership status and location.
Are there risks associated with clinical aromatherapy?
Clinical aromatherapists are trained to use essential oils therapeutically and safely. Understanding the ideal dilution ratios is a part of any reputable training course.
However, there is a risk of skin irritation and allergic reactions in some people. The best way to avoid this is to consult an experienced clinical aromatherapist and warn them of any allergies you have or medication you are taking. This helps them use oils in the most therapeutic way.
In addition, consult your medical provider before trying aromatherapy to see if it is right for you.
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